What role should Britain play in all this? We should certainly not just snipe from the sidelines when allegations of human rights abuses are brought up, although we should not turn a blind eye to them. We should also do our best, I suggest, through our aid programme, the provision of training and scholarships and the enlargement of responsible inward investment—such as I believe BP has provided in the Tangguh project, which is now undergoing rapid expansion—to create the conditions and the capacity-building that will encourage Papuans to believe that a peaceful and prosperous future is not beyond their reach. I hope that the Minister can say something about the way in which the Government are playing a positive role in West Papua, both now and in the future.

7.17 pm

Lord Avebury: My Lords, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, reminded us of the betrayal by the UN of the people of West Papua after Indonesia invaded and occupied the territory in 1961; it then connived with the so-called Act of Free Choice, when 1,000 handpicked men were coerced into ratifying the annexation. Today, unfortunately, the UN seems just as helpless in dealing with the gross and persistent violations of human rights inflicted on the occupied people, of which a great many examples were given recently to the Human Rights Committee, including a 53-page report from Amnesty International. Another was a report by TAPOL, which campaigns for democracy and human rights in Indonesia, and I declare an interest as its honorary president, having been connected with it and its distinguished founder, Carmel Budiardjo, for the 40 years of its existence.

This detail describes some of the 200 political arrests in the territory in 2012. A number were shot, some of them fatally, while allegedly resisting arrest. Those who continue to speak about self-determination for the territory, as they have every right to do under Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, risk prosecution under Article 106 of the criminal code, which prescribes life imprisonment for any attempt to separate a part of the state. I hope that the Prime Minister will invite President SBY to visit the UK in September next year so that he can see how we deal with demands for self-determination in this country.

The Indonesians should recall their own experiences with East Timor, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, which achieved independence, and Aceh, which gained a substantial degree of autonomy, after long and bloody struggles. In both cases, the results were achieved through dialogue, as I remember from having been an adviser at the talks between the Indonesians and the Free Aceh Movement between 2000 and 2002. That process, and the agreement subsequently moderated by former President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, could form a model for eliminating the causes of human rights violations in West Papua, rather than Indonesia pursuing futile attempts to eradicate the movement for self-determination by military force and draconian laws.

The results of the present policies are illustrated by a report from Human Rights Watch focusing on violence, impunity and the denial of access to foreign journalists and the UN special procedures. The UN special

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rapporteur on extrajudicial executions requested a visit in 2004 and again in 2008, but has never received a reply. This came up at the Human Rights Council, but in the 208 paragraphs of the Government’s reply to the list of issues raised, there was no reference to the egregious denial of the UN special procedures’ right of access to perform their duties.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement in May calling on Indonesia to allow visits by journalists and by the UN special procedures. A visit by the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, which had been scheduled for January, was postponed indefinitely. The UK was among the states that echoed the demand that they be admitted, and I hope my noble friend can tell your Lordships what further steps can be taken by the UN Human Rights Council, or what else can be done, to deal with the open defiance of the UN’s authority. I recognise that it would be difficult to get agreement on raising the powers of the UN’s human rights mechanism, but does my noble friend agree that if there are no coalitions of the willing ready to impose penalties on recalcitrant states, it is only to be expected that those states will ignore the Human Rights Council, as Indonesia does?

Indonesia’s Government say that there is freedom of the press, that people criticise the Government and that there is no bar even on separatist opinions. On the other hand, Amnesty says that peaceful political activists continue to be arrested and detained. Of the 76 political prisoners recorded by Papuans Behind Bars, no fewer than 42 are charged under Article 106; there are probably more, because in a number of cases the charges are unknown.

The situation in West Papua is almost certainly a lot worse even than we are able to describe, because of the barriers to access, particularly in respect of the UN special procedures. The special representative to the Secretary-General on human rights defenders was there in 2007, which was the last such visit. She found that a climate of fear prevailed,

“especially for defenders engaged with the rights of the Papuan communities to participation in governance, control over natural resources and demilitarization of the province”.

That provides a clue as to why Jakarta is so paranoid. As we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, West Papua is a land of immense mineral and forestry wealth and the Indonesians do not want outsiders poking their noses into the way that companies such as Freeport, which operates the largest gold and copper mine in the world, are causing permanent environmental damage and riding roughshod over the rights of local people, with the backing of the Government.

The Constitutional Court ruled in May that an Act that allowed the state to claim forest land previously owned under customary law by indigenous people was unlawful. If that has force, there should be equality of arms between the Government-backed multinationals and the indigenous people. I would be grateful if my noble friend would inquire into the effect of this ruling on the dispossession of indigenous people in previous years.

I am sorry that Indonesia is not a country that concerns the FCO, according to its annual report on human rights and democracy; nor is West Papua even

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mentioned in the section of that report dealing with indigenous rights. I respectfully suggest that human rights abuses in West Papua are serious enough to justify a much higher priority than the Government have accorded them in the past and that the issues raised in this debate demand their urgent attention.

7.24 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, for initiating this important debate. Indonesia has been undergoing a process of democratic transition. Certainly, the human rights situation in Indonesia has improved over the past 15 years and there is no doubt that its Government remain committed to further progress, as indicated by their signing up to a range of international conventions.

Like the coalition, the previous Labour Government believed that the complex issues in Papua can best be resolved through peaceful dialogue between the people of Papua and the Government of Indonesia. The previous Government supported the territorial integrity of Indonesia and encouraged its Government, through genuine engagement with Papuan representatives, to make real the 2001 special autonomy legislation.

However, as we have heard in today’s debate, the picture in West Papua is not one of progress but one of increased violence and repression. Indonesia’s treason laws continue to be used to punish free expression. Peaceful demonstrations are banned and attacked by the security services. In the past 12 months there have been numerous incidences of Papuans being shot, poisoned, arrested and tortured for taking part in peaceful demonstrations and other activities associated with independence aspirations.

As the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, reminded us, the most recent example was the peaceful demonstrations on 1 May 2013 to mark 50 years of Indonesian control over West Papua. Three Papuans were fatally shot. Following this, a demonstration was planned to commemorate the three people who were killed. The local police banned the demonstration, which took place anyway. The demonstration was repeatedly attacked by police, and four members of the West Papuan National Committee, including its chairman, were arrested and reportedly tortured.

In contrast to these actions, the Indonesian Government, as we have heard, talked of the special autonomy measures established through presidential decree in 2011, which they claimed would accelerate development in Papua and West Papua. Programmes related to the enhancement of food security, poverty eradication, community-based economic development, education, health and basic infrastructures are, they say, their key focus. However, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, asked, where is the evidence?

Almost exactly two years ago, the noble Baroness’s predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, stated on the Floor of the House:

“If we can get expanded commercial and economic activity, effective inward investment and the expansion of trade, this will pave the way for a more open society and a more effective policing of human rights”.—[Official Report, 19/7/11; col. 1193.]

I ask the Minister whether, two years on, she still holds to that assessment and, if so, what action could the

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EU and the British Government take to ensure speedy and genuine economic development with proper autonomy for the people of West Papua.

Despite the welcome progress on human rights generally, in the report of the UN Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review 12 months ago, the UK Government noted the increase in violence and called for renewed efforts to address the challenges in Papua and West Papua. Can the Minister give us an assessment of what sort of progress has been made since that report?

In the same report, the US expressed concern about the failures to create and enforce the framework of accountability for abuse by the military and police, and the failure to protect certain religious minorities. As we have already heard in the debate, the Human Rights Committee on 11 July concluded its consideration of the initial report on Indonesia’s implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is one of the most important human rights treaties that Indonesia has ratified.

The committee also highlighted the ongoing violence in Papua and deplored the excessive use of force by the Indonesian security forces. It, too, highlighted the fact that there is no effective mechanism to hold members of the military accountable. As we have heard, some 70 extrajudicial killings had recently taken place in Papua, but no one was prosecuted. Impunity had become a structural problem in Indonesia. Criminal prosecutions and sanctions were appropriate measures to combat police violence and had to be implemented. The committee’s clear view was that such violations were likely to continue until Indonesia takes measures to develop effective complaints procedures.

Indonesian military tribunals are in most cases not open to the public and therefore lack transparency, impartiality and independence. The Indonesian Government have claimed that these tribunals are generally accessible to the public, but that is strongly challenged by human rights groups. NGOs who attended the review expect the committee to make strong recommendations to the Government to review the military court law. Will the Minister, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, reinforce that call?

On freedom of the press, the Indonesian delegation claimed to the committee that the local media in Papua are free to publish any news—despite, as we have heard in the debate, continued evidence of intimidation, threats and violence against local journalists. As the noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, reminded us, the international media are barred from entry. In recent years, the international community has had to witness the extrajudicial killing of journalist Ardiansyah Matra’is and the violent attack against Banjir Ambarita. The UN Human Rights Committee review deplored the lack of freedom of expression in Papua. The Indonesian Government delegate, who also happens to be in charge of the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua, responded by saying that,

“freedom of expression is not absolute”.

The Government see this limitation of freedom of expression as necessary to maintain state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Indonesia, a point that was also made by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay.

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The committee’s experts quite rightly sought clarification regarding the declaration made by Indonesia upon its signature of the convention concerning limitations to the right of self-determination. What was the scope of the reservations? The covenant had to be implemented in all regions, regardless of their autonomy, and the Government were bound to ensure that all its provisions were fully implemented, even in regions where by-laws were in contradiction with some the provisions.

The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, mentioned the Indonesian counterterrorism unit, Special Detachment 88. Trained by the UK, it is believed to be operating in Papua to crack down on the Papuan independence movement, including the alleged assassination of its leaders. The activities of this unit in West Papua have been extensively covered in the Australian media, such as the October 2012 article by ABC News, as highlighted in the excellent Library briefing. I ask the Minister whether Government have plans for the ongoing funding of Special Detachment 88 training through the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement.

Finally, I repeat the words with which I started my speech: dialogue and discussion with the genuine representatives of the Papuan people is vital if progress is to be made, peace to be restored and economic development to be achieved.

7.34 pm

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My Lords, I thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, for proposing this debate on the human rights situation in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Last year was momentous for relations between Indonesia and the UK. Following the Prime Minister’s visit in April 2012, I travelled to Indonesia in late May and saw for myself the huge progress this multiethnic state has made since its transition from autocracy to democracy. I visited Aceh, now recovering from the twin blows of a long-running conflict and the devastating tsunami. I met students and parliamentarians and we had discussions about extremism and human rights, as well as other issues.

Last year culminated in the state visit to the UK of the Indonesian President, which has set the bilateral relationship on a new footing. Indonesia is a G20 partner and regional powerhouse. It is playing a positive role in regional security dynamics, and the Indonesian President is showing global leadership through efforts including co-chairing the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda with the Prime Minister.

Today our reinvigorated relationship is grounded in strong political, security and prosperity interests. But as Her Majesty the Queen said at the state banquet during the President’s visit,

“the partnership between Britain and Indonesia is also shaped by common values”.

It is a relationship that should be—and, indeed, is—viewed as a partnership through which we can each assume the role of a critical friend. It is in this spirit that we discuss issues of concern, including human rights in Papua.

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As noble Lords are aware, the political situation in Papua is hugely complex. While it is portrayed by some as a clear-cut issue, this is simply not the case. Over the past decade or so, the human rights environment in Indonesia has been transformed. It now has a press and civil society that are free and vibrant, and has been on a positive journey in the region, especially on the issue of human rights. However, as the Indonesian Government themselves acknowledge, challenges remain in certain areas, including Papua.

President Yudhoyono has stated on a number of occasions that he supports a welfare rather than security approach to Papua, and we have seen members of the security forces who commit abuses being held to account. This is progress. Political rights are regularly exercised in local and national electoral processes, but we accept that challenges remain. Notwithstanding the significant funds that have been pumped into the region, access to education and healthcare is often poor, particularly for women and girls. Domestic violence rates are disturbingly high and freedom of expression is all too often stifled, as has been mentioned many times today.

As noble Lords have done today, the Government condemn all violations of human rights, no matter who the victim. Violations in Papua have been committed by the security forces as well as by those who claim to be striving for the rights of Papuan people. Verifying the details is often difficult given the remoteness of the region. We have heard from the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, about Papuans who have tragically paid with their lives. We also saw the appalling murder of eight Indonesian military personnel in February this year. Non-ethnic Papuans based in the highlands have been attacked and killed, and a German tourist was shot in May 2012.

The restrictions placed upon those voicing their political opinion are also cause for concern. Lengthy jail terms have been handed down for holding peaceful protests, and I pay tribute to the NGOs and their staff who work tirelessly to support these prisoners. Freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression were raised at the universal periodic review. The invitation to the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression to visit Indonesia is a positive step, and we firmly hope that this visit takes place soon.

I echo the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, about journalists, NGOs and international organisations—including the International Red Cross, which has extremely limited access to Papua —and we have raised these with the Government of Indonesia at all levels. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, reminded us, without opening Papua up, there is a risk of misreporting or incidents being misrepresented. Incidents will remain hard to verify as long as Papua remains closed.

The Government are resolute in demanding that human rights be respected by all in Papua. We make this absolutely clear to the Indonesian Government at the highest levels. In the past 12 months alone, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and President Yudhoyono discussed Papua when they met in November during the state visit—I can confirm that on the record. The human rights situation in Papua also features regularly in our discussions with the Indonesian Foreign

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Minister and the governor of Papua. British embassy staff visit the region regularly. As my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford informed the House last year, in May 2012, as part of the universal periodic review, we, along with other UN members had an opportunity to comment on human rights progress in Indonesia.

On the human rights report, my noble friend Lord Avebury asked why it was not a country of concern. It was in fact covered under the heading of “Freedom of religion or belief” as one of the areas of concern we had about Indonesia. The noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, raised the issue of human rights violations generally, and how far these concerns had been raised. I have already explained how these issues have been raised at the presidential level. I can, however, tell him that last September the ambassador visited Papua and met senior military and police officials, emphasising the need to respect human rights and ensure full and transparent investigations into any violent incidents, and only in April of this year, the British ambassador discussed the situation in Papua with the new governor of the province.

Human rights are fundamental and based on universal values. They are not there to be invoked only when economic conditions allow. Even so, a myriad of social, political and economic influences often lie behind human rights abuses, and these must also be addressed. The UK will therefore continue to encourage meaningful progress on governance issues, including the full implementation of the special autonomy law for the provinces of Papua and West Papua. We also support the increased focus on economic and social development to which the Government have committed themselves in order to address the widespread poverty in the region, especially among ethnic Papuans.

The noble Lord, Lord Collins, referred to the position of previous Governments on the political status of Papua. Of course, ours remains the same: the UK supports the territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia and does not support calls for the independence of Papua. Like the noble Lord, Lord Kilclooney, I recognise that the events surrounding the 1969 Act of Free Choice continue to be a focus of controversy for many with an interest in Papua and West Papua. The UK was not party to the process and we have no plans to support a review of the Act. All relevant UK documents relating to this period are now a matter of national record.

The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, and other noble Lords spoke about Special Detachment 88. Our training and engagement with the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation, which includes officers from Densus 88, takes place within a framework of respect for the rule of law and a commitment to upholding human rights obligations in compliance with UK and international standards. All of the training delivered by the UK is rooted firmly in the importance of upholding human rights in counterterrorism investigations. Each training course contains a specific

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module on these obligations. There have been impact assessments; I think that there was one in 2011. However, for operational reasons we would not release an impact assessment on CT operations overseas.

Specific questions were asked about funding. I confirm that in the financial year 2011-12, the UK’s counterterrorism programme provided in the region of £400,000 of support to the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation to deliver a package of six different classroom-based training programmes. We also deliver a regional course that brings together senior law enforcement officers from around south-east Asia to focus on the co-ordination and management of multi-jurisdictional investigations aimed at disrupting terrorism and transnational crime. Funding for our programme for the JCLEC has been agreed for the year 2013-14, and we will be providing £319,000. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, spoke about revenue flows because of the special autonomy status. Our understanding is that revenue flows have indeed been going to the local elected authorities in Papua.

The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, asked about military accountability. We have seen steps towards greater accountability in cases of military abuse, but there is still a long way to go. Convictions for those involved in the appalling abuses, some of which then appeared on YouTube, were a step forward. The noble Lord also asked what practical things the UK was involved in. DfID is providing £10 million of funding from 2013 to 2015 which is focused on programmes in Papua. We are also working to deliver sustainable development and we will fund a number of NGOs and civil society groups to develop capacity in the civil society sector.

The United Kingdom has an important and wide-ranging relationship with Indonesia, aspects of which I have outlined this evening. It is a relationship that allows us to raise areas of concern in a constructive, frank and open manner, including human rights violations. However, we do so in a balanced manner, regardless of who is the perpetrator or the victim.

We all agree that the situation in Papua is of concern and that we should continue to speak out against violations, whoever commits them, which contravene human rights and international law. Greater accountability and transparency are needed regarding abuses committed both by the Indonesian security forces and by Papuan armed groups. All those with a stake in Papua’s future need constructively to engage in peaceful dialogue as a way to resolve their grievances. I firmly believe that it is possible for Papua to enjoy the same level of peace, stability and prosperity that is seen elsewhere in Indonesia. That is, after all, in the interests of all Papuan people. However, it will take commitment from all sides. We believe that the Indonesian Government are genuinely committed to addressing these challenges and we hope that others will join us in supporting their efforts.

Committee adjourned at 7.45 pm.